French Dining Manners

May 2nd, 2004, 10:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
French Dining Manners

I have been looking up the "do's" & don'ts" in Sandra Gustafsons Cheap Eats in Paris but cannot find any reference to whether it is permitted (or just damn rude) to take the half drank bottle of wine back to your hotel?
As I am the only wine drinker in our family and would love to polish off the whole bottle, believe me I would regret it the next day! I have visions of putting the cork back and slipping it into our very handy travel case so I can enjoy it with a picnic lunch the next day. Yes or No??
tod is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 12:47 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,146
It's not rude.

I've done it several times, and no-one turned a hair.

It's a year or two since I last did it, and it's perfectly possible some idiot in Brussels has published a rule that it's unsafe to carry undrunk wine in public. Or that somewhere in the small print of that "Repression de l'ivresse publique" poster in every French bar, there's a prohibition against this.

But no-one's ever bothered pointing it out.

Anyway, there's only one way to tell. Picking up the bottle (which you've paid for), asking for the cork and leaving the restaurant. Far more informative than any spurious advice you'll get from anyone on this board. Including me.
flanneruk is online now  
May 3rd, 2004, 01:03 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,893
I've never done this sort of thing and nor would I.

In France, many restaurants (including the top-tier places) offer wonderful half-bottle selections. When I dine out alone, I either choose from the half-bottle offerings or select wines by the glass for each course, another great option with some terrific choices and a unique opportunity for a variety tasting.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 01:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,921
My mother does this all the time in France. For her it is one of the civilized factors of the country. My father is strictly a martini drinker so she is on her own with wine. I am not saying that I would do this at Taillevent but for small local restaurants it should be fine.
AGM_Cape_Cod is online now  
May 3rd, 2004, 01:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,521
And if you're dining in the hotel restaurant (particularly half or full pension), they'll hold your bottle (or bottles, actually,if you've started more than one) for you overnight.
Therese is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 02:52 AM
Posts: n/a
Are you asking for permission? Are you afraid someone will think you are a "bad person" if you take the wine you paid for out of the restaurant? Are you worried that the "food snob" may be lurking under your table (hoping, of course, that you'll leave the bottle)?
If you do, or don't do this, will anyone know? or care?

May 3rd, 2004, 04:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,605
Singletail, if we were to extend your philosphy, then why should we bother to try French, or say the 'nice words, or know a full meal is expected in a restaurant? What is wrong with attempting to avoid discomfort in a situation(dining)typically rife with 'etiquette rules' ? Just do what you want and hang the consequences...?

I posted this same question a while back. I decided I agree that it is easier to order a glass or even a 1/4 bottle and not deal with it. I am not a wine expert so not terribly particular as long as it isn't vinegar, therefore not looking for a special bottle or label.
Travelnut is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 04:14 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
A while back there was in fact a Times article that some restaurants in France have provided doggy bags for wine bottles.

You can find a reprint of the article here:

I seem to remember that people even discussed this article Fodor's, but I could be mistaken.
111op is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 04:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,247
It's perfectly acceptable. In fact , a lot of places will recork and bag it for you!

Berry Brothers

Chien" Bags Offered for Leftover Wine - 11-Dec-2003

Restaurants across France have started offering diners a 'doggy bag' for any leftover wine to halt a drop in wine sales as drink-driving controls get tougher. Some 500 restaurants across France are now offering to repackage any unfinished wine bottles by recorking the wine using a vacuvin pump to extract air, ensuring it keeps for several days, and slipping the bottle into a discreet bag. Wine sales in restaurants have dropped by 10 to 15 % in the last year as the conservative government cracks down on bad drivers, said Bordeaux wine council CIVB, which launched the initiative.
"It's not in the French or Latin spirit, so this is a good way of taking away the guilt and guaranteeing a discreet exit," CIVB spokesman Valerie Descudet said yesterday."It makes everybody happy - the restaurant owner, who is selling the wine, and the client who does not feel forced to finish the bottle or to avoid drinking altogether because of the risks it entails."

As part of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's efforts to improve France's appalling road safety record, police have increased road checks and the Government has implemented stricter punishments for drunk driving in the last year. In an effort to counter the Government campaign against drinking and driving, France's national wine producers' association, CNAOC,last month unveiled their own campaign saying that it's okay to have a drink or two before driving. The CNAOC Campaign has been roundly condemned by French road safety campaigners.

jody is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 04:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Singletail - No, not asking permission, just wondering if the French frown on one taking your paid for bottle with you. After enjoying a nice meal I would hate to end it on a sour note if this practice is not acceptable and I was stopped at the door.
In her book, Gustafson mentions "doggie bags" are a big No-No. Here we practice it all the time. It is better to "wise-up" than "cock-up" when in another mans backyard.
tod is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 04:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Jody - Thanks for your time in giving me that information on wine "doggie bags" - (The doggie Bags I referred to are of course food). Thank you everyone else as well for your invaluable input. It is an unfortunate that where I live half bottle are not offered in many restaurants and if they do, they are usually only a choice of one white and two reds. By the glass - Yes, the name of the wine is always "CHATEUX LE CARDBOARD" because of the box it comes in. Mostly real headache stuff.
tod is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:14 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 627
Here in Australia we are very fortunate to be able to take our own wine to most restaurants and frankly I think we would view that, if we paid for something in a restaurant, then we would own it and had every right to take whatever portion of it with us if we purchased. My experience is, as a generalisation, there is big difference in attitudes of Parisians and those found elsewhere in France. A bit of brashness and arrogance when dealing with some Parisians in service industries of like approach often works well
SydneySteve is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,865
I assume you mean a "half drunk" bottle of wine, odd as it sounds. Participles are so problematic. But anyway, if you paid for the wine you theoretically "own" it and can take it anywhere it's legal to take it.
I would suggest, however, that a better course would be to order a half-bottle of wine, the option of which is often available at most Paris restaurants, bistros, brasseries, etc. That means you can drink what you like and don't have to shove a half-consumed bottle into your purse when leaving a restaurant, which isn't that pretty a picture - not that I haven't done it.
StCirq is online now  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 319
Why not just order by the glass? Based on your disdain for "Chateau de Cardboard", I can assume that you'll find an opened bottle kept corked overnight until the following day's lunch really loses a lot in terms of it's structure, the nose, some color and the acidity. It' my personal experience that wines-by-the-glass in any French restaurants are in a higher league than those cardboard boxed wines where you live.

C'mon now, you're in France! Trying out another French bottle, no matter how cheap it is, for your lunch the next day should be a treat and a very French experience for any wine lover.
ezlivin is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 735
No one will bat an eyelash if you take the wine you paid for out of the restaurant.

I do agree that ordering half bottles severely reduces the options of bottles you can try.
LaurenSKahn is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 07:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,427
I'll have to admit I've never done this and would not, and have never seen anyone else do this in a French restaurant. I order about what I expect to drink. If I'm alone, I order a half bottle or small carafe, which is about right. Your choices are limited, but in many restaurants, there is a good selection of half bottles, and it doesn't sound like you are ordering 50 euro bottles of wine to me.

Ever heard of wine-VAC stoppers? I use these at home and they are great. Buy one and pack it with you, they are lightweight and don't take up much room and keep the wine better than a cork. That way, you could stick it in yourself and pocket it, I suppose.

Why not just ask them at the restaurant if it is okay to take the half-finished bottle with you, before you order? I just ask people if things are okay if I don't know if they will take offense or not allow something.
Christina is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 07:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 57
"No one will bat an eyelash if you take the wine you paid for out of the restaurant."

Says who? Who is this LaurenSKahn and what does she know about taste, style, and elegant behavior in France? Apparently, not much.

Why would any cultured person with manners order more than he/she could drink at one meal? A sophisticated diner wouldn't.

You people, who cherish the "I paid for it, therefore, I own it" philosophy, can behave however you wish but, if I ever witnessed someone taking an open bottle of any beverage from their restaurant dinner table, the first thought that would come to my mind is "how tacky."

French restaurants offer some of the finest half-bottle selections available. There's simply no excuse to order more than you could drink at one sitting. Great wines by the glass have also become extremely popular in quality establishments. As ezlivin said, "c'mon now, you're in France."
wesley is offline  
May 3rd, 2004, 08:06 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 735
Ah, another person vying for the coveted title of the Lavrenti Beria of the Europe boards.

If you don't know who he was, visit the library. You might learn something.
LaurenSKahn is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Another way to think about this is the following -- do you care what these people you'll never meet again think? I frequently feel much better if I think this way. Of course I try not to be overtly uncouth or rude, but if certain restaurants in France do provide doggy bags, I doubt that this is a crime.

There're other more important things to worry about on a trip.
111op is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 978
As I was a bit undecided about your question, although I know this is not done at all, I decided to ask some friends over here in Europe, the following question: " What are the first things going through your mind when seeing someone leave a restaurant with an unfinished bottle of wine?"

- 9 out of 10: "Must be Americans!"
- 7 out of 10: "A lack of savoir vivre, or elementary education!"
- 2 out of 10: "Heavy drinker!"

If you have an excellent bottle of wine, when it will be thoroughly shaken for your picnic lunch the next day just by carrying it, it will not taste half as good as the evening before.
If you have an average bottle of wine, there is no need in taking it at all for the next day's picnic.
baldrick is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:19 AM.